Padraig Harrington unveiled his “new swing” in the Austrian GolfOpen and slumped to a three over 75 that leaves him in danger of missing the cut.
As a cardless Gary Murphy led the Irish challengers with a level par 72, six shots behind leader Liam Bond, and Walker Cup star Paul Cutler made his professional debut with a 77, Harrington went from two under after eight to three over following a sloppy finish.
After birdie fours at the par-five sixth and seventh, he bogeyed the ninth, 10th and 11th, and then followed a birdie-bogey-birdie run at the 12th, 13th and 14th with a double bogey six at the 16th and a bogey at the 17th.
Left to rue two shots into water in a round, Harrington said: “It was a disappointing finish. Having played the first eight hols in two under you are in a good position and I had a couple of downwind par fives coming in but I broke my five wood yesterday and put a new one in the bag today and it cost me four shots.
“I put it in the water twice today. It was the same five wood that I hit the shot into the 17th at Birkdale in 2008. That was a pity and then it was a pity to finish badly as well.
“I hit a terrible tee shot into the 16th. I wasn’t quite sure where I was aiming because I didn’t know the hole too well. I’ll definitely keep that five wood forever – I can’t use it again because the face is caved in but I will keep it, It was my favourite club in the bag and the club that has been in my bag the longest but these things happen.
“I have a replacement of the exact club being sent out so that will be in the bag tomorrow.”
As for the swing changes he has made with new coach Pete Cowen, he said: “I couldn’t have been happier with how I drove the ball today and that has been the weakest part of my game for a while.
“Do I have a time frame? Every week you think that it is ready to go and you go out and hope to play well and to win, but if you look at the round today it was a couple fo five woods and the putting that did me in, so I am happy and still believe that it will all start clicking tomorrow and if not then it might be next Thursday at the Dunhill. Most of us pros are optimistic – there is always tomorrow.”
Damien McGrane shot a 74 as Michael McGeady and Jonny Caldwell matched Harrington’s 75. But Cutler was bitterly disappointed with his five over 77 on his professional debut.
Cutler said: “It was a very disappointing start to be honest. The score was disappointing but I actually struck the ball quite well but the putting let me down badly today. That was the key – I just couldn’t get the ball in the hole.”